by: Andrea Zanaglio Updated:
PITTSBURGH - The James Harrison Family Foundation held its third annual Brunch with Santa at Heinz Field on Saturday to raise money for children with disabilities.
The sold-out event began at 10 a.m. at the Heinz Field West Club Lounge with a full breakfast buffet, complete with eggs, bacon and sausage.
Children and adults alike were able to take part in various activities, such as face painting, balloon animals, arts and crafts, a photo booth and a chance to take pictures with Santa Claus and The Grinch.
Raffle tickets and T-shirts bearing James Harrison’s number 92 and the phrase “Never Give Up” were sold at the event in addition to a collection for toys that will be donated to Children’s Hospital.
Also on hand were some familiar faces.
Pittsburgh Steelers James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Charlie Batch, Brett Keisel and Lawrence Timmons were all in attendance at the event.
For an extra $40, guests were able to have one piece of memorabilia signed by all five Steelers.
All proceeds from the event will go toward helping children with disabilities and their families, like 10-year-old Kendle Haught.
Kendle, who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at just 5 months old and has been in a partial body cast since late August after she broke her right femur in a car accident, was the guest of honor at the brunch.
“Kendle has been friends with James for probably at least six years now,” said Kristy Miklic, Kendle’s mother. “We were paired up with him through the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and he continued to come back every year for the event only if he was paired up with Kendle.”
Since the start of the Brunch with Santa, Kendle also served as the guest of honor the first year and has spoken at each one.
“She can talk in front of a thousand people and it wouldn’t bother her one bit. She is very outgoing,” said Miklic.
Harrison founded the James Harrison Family Foundation in November 2010 in order to give back to those who need it most.
“It’s an opportunity to give back. I have been very fortunate to land in the position that I am,” said Harrison. “Whenever you get a chance to give back, it’s a good thing.”
Miklic has seen Harrison’s generosity firsthand.
“His foundation helped us get a handicap-accessible van. … James actually went to the dealership and wheeled and dealed a good deal for us,” she said. “So he’s very instrumental in helping with his foundation. He’s not just a show up and play kind of guy. He’s involved; very involved.”